Sick Woman’s Self Portrait by Sara Tilley

I am the dead mouse
perfect and stiff,
no longer than your thumb.

I am the cat,
satisfied with killing
for its own sake.

I am not hungry for blood.

I am the sick woman
waking up from a nap
and remembering herself.

I am the doctor
who smiles when
she says it’s permanent.

I am the dead mouse,
picked up with a spatula,
knotted into a plastic bag.

I am the little white tent
of plastic.

I am the landfill, its
seagulls, the sunset,
the neon signage, the
young heterosexuals
kissing in an automobile.

I am the grass
not cut all summer,
bent under its own weight.

I am silent and
covered in fine hairs.

Pigeons form my halo.
Halo equals crown.
Crown digs into forehead
where migraines appear.

I’d rather be a Rorschach test,
or just an inkblot on white paper.
A nematode, fixing nitrogen.

Paper shredder.
King James Bible.
Fish bones in the compost pile.


Sara Tilley’s work bridges writing, theatre, and Pochinko clown technique. She’s published two award-winning novels: Skin Room (Pedlar Press, 2008), and DUKE, (Pedlar Press, 2015), and has written, co-written or co-created twelve plays for the stage. She lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada and identifies as cisgender, queer, Settler, intersectional feminist and chronically ill. Find her at saratilley.ca, or on Twitter @TaraSilly.